In fantasy football, the TE position can be overlooked as they often do not score as many fantasy points as the WRs and aren’t as involved in their offenses as the RBs. However, this neglect ends today. For better or worse, the TE position is in the spotlight as they finally get their turn in the “25 Statistics” series. The purpose of this list is to reflect on the year that was, to gain some perspective as we look forward to 2017. Some facts may seem trivial while others may be an integral part your decision making when it comes to drafting TEs in 2017.
1. Let’s get one thing out of the way, 2016 was a down year for the TE position. Scoring of TE1s in 2016 was down 13% from 2015’s top 12 TEs and was the poorest cumulative performance by the TE position since 2012.
2. Dwayne Allen was the definition of Boom or Bust in 2016. Over half (55.6%) of his fantasy production came in just 3 games, Weeks 1, 13, and 17.
3. For Greg Olsen, 2016 was a tale of two seasons. Over his first 8 games, he was the #1 TE. However, in the second half, he let his owners down as he stumbled to TE #13. Zach Ertz was the #1 TE over the back half of the season.
4. If you combine the efforts of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry from 2016, the resulting player would have 89 receptions for 1,026 yards and 15 TDs, good for 233.1 fantasy points. The #1 TE was Travis Kelce with 180.5.
5. Speaking of Kelce, his 2016 performance, when compared to the TE stats from 2015 would’ve placed him as the TE #6. Just beating out 2015’s version of Travis Kelce who finished as the TE #7 that year.
6. Perhaps opportunity isn’t everything in fantasy football. Despite finishing 3rd amongst TEs in targets and 1st in receptions, Dennis Pitta finished outside the top 10 in fantasy points.
7. 30.6% of Hunter Henry’s receptions came in the red zone, the highest mark in the league. His 8 TDs tied Cameron Brate for most amongst TEs.
8. In terms of fantasy points per game, Jordan Reed has been the #1 TE in fantasy football over the last two seasons.
9. Andrew Luck thinks “Doyle rules!”. Jack Doyle caught 80.52% of his targets. This is the highest catch rate in the league amongst players with at least 75 targets. Doyle maintained his efficiency in the red zone where defenses tighten up. His catch rate there was 78.57%. Antonio Gates had the lowest catch percentage amongst qualifying TEs with 56.99%. Jared Cook, Ladarius Green, and Vance McDonald all had lower catch rates but injuries limited their opportunities.
10. Dwayne Allen is the slowest TE on the entire planet of Earth. No, really. Of the top 30 TEs in 2016, Allen ran the slowest 40-time at a sluggish pace of 4.89 seconds. The fastest was Vernon Davis at 4.38 seconds.
11. Only 4 TEs were on the field for at least 90% of their team’s offensive snaps in 2016: Jason Witten (96%), Gary Barnidge (94%), Greg Olsen (93.1%), and Kyle Rudolph (92.1%). These guys are so involved in their offenses that Olsen admitted that he doesn’t even know the names of the personnel packages because they all include him anyway.
12. Jordan Reed scored the most points in the league per offensive snap. His mark of 0.238732 points/snap narrowly edged out Rob Gronkowski’s 0.238701 points/snap.
13. Patriot TEs, Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, scored 2.03 fantasy points per target in 2016. The only player to post a better mark was Hunter Henry (2.11 points/target).
14. Antonio Gates tied Tony Gonzalez’s career TD record with his 111th score in Week 17. Gates reached this milestone in 204 career games compared to Gonzalez’s 270 games. Rob Gronkowski is on pace to reach 111 TDs in a mere 144 games.
15. Rob Gronkowski had the most yards per reception in the league with 21.6. It wasn’t even close. The second best TE was Jimmy Graham at 14.2 yards/reception, while Chris Hogan was the league’s most explosive WR with a mark of 17.9 yards/reception.
16. On average, Greg Olsen was the 3rd TE taken in 2016 drafts. He finished 3rd in scoring. Delanie Walker was the 5th TE off the board and finished, you guessed it, 5th in scoring.
17. Greg Olsen accounted for 26.1% of all Carolina Panthers’ receptions, the highest share in the league. Travis Kelce had 25.9% of the Chief’s receptions.
18. On average, teams targeted the TE 118.2 times this season. The New York Jets, however, seemingly refused to do so. They only targeted the TE on 34 passes, 71.3% less than the league average. Texans TEs were the most targeted with 188 targets, 59.1% more than the league average.
19. TEs were targeted on 20.7% of all pass attempts in 2016. However, rookie QBs targeted their TEs 27.4% of the time. Perhaps TEs really are a young QBs best friend.
20. It’s so easy that anyone can do it. In fact, 14 different TEs finished as the weekly #1 TE. Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, and… Jack Doyle were the only players to repeat as #1.
21. Travis Kelce was the #1 TE on the season but only finished as the weekly #1 once. He had just 6 top 5 finishes. His 4 TDs were the lowest mark by a #1 TE this century. The next lowest TD total by the #1 TE is 6 (Todd Heap 2002, Tony Gonzalez 2001).
22. Travis Kelce’s 1,125 receiving yards was 12th amongst all receivers, not just TEs. It was the 18th best yardage season by a TE since the merger.
23. Jason Witten is 7th all-time in receptions with 1,089. If he returns for his 15th NFL season in 2017, he will need just 14 more receptions to pass Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Marvin Harrison to become #4. The only active player with more catches is Larry Fitzgerald with 1,125.
24. Jordan Reed is widely regarded as an injury risk, and for good reason. The Washington TE has missed 28.1% of his games due to injury. Only Rob Gronkowski (29.5%) and Tyler Eifert (42.2%) have missed games more often.
25. Over the last 5 seasons, only 2 TEs have averaged more than 110 targets per year: Greg Olsen (118.2) and Jimmy Graham (114.2).